Frederick has issued an official response to an allegation that the city’s Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee violated elements of Maryland’s Open Meetings Act by meeting behind closed doors and without notice to the public.
Peter Samuel, a longtime opponent of the proposed downtown hotel and conference center project, submitted a complaint in September to the Open Meetings Compliance Board alleging the hotel committee has been violating open meetings laws since its inception in 2010. The complaint estimated the board has met 30 to 40 times, mostly behind closed doors, and said the group is not listed on the city’s website as an official committee. It also said the committee was put together in a closed-door session.
Assistant City Attorney Rachel Depo said via email Friday that she submitted the city’s response to the state board. The response said the committee is not a public body, and thus it is not subject to the rules in the state’s Open Meetings Act. It said the committee does not meet any of the criteria to be used in determining whether an entity is a public body and asked that the board members find the committee was not in violation of open meetings laws.
“The City respectfully asks that the OCMB find that there has been no violation of the Act as alleged in the Complaint or otherwise,” the response said.
Depo said she forwarded a copy of the response to Samuel on Friday morning and expects the Open Meetings Compliance Board will issue its response within 30 days.
The multimillion-dollar proposed downtown hotel and conference center, which is slated to come together with public and private funds, is in the early stages of design. Developers and architects have been working with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on design details. The commission is set to vote Thursday on details of the first phase.
The 180-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center is planned for 200-212 E. Patrick St. along Carroll Creek.